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Thursday, 22 September 1983
Page: 1158

Mr GOODLUCK(12.05) —I am pleased to become involved in this debate, to talk about the Budget handed down by the Hawke Government. I should like first of all to talk about the elderly section of the community as it is mentioned in the Budget, to which I have not referred yet. I have not gone public on the assets test. I have not said very much about the introduction of a means test for pensioners over the age of 70 for the very real reason that I know how much concern is generated by certain things that are said by politicians and by the media. I will not be accused again of saying that people over the age of 17 do not really understand what is going on. There are many who do understand what is going on. There are many over the age of 70 who, because of their age, because of sickness, or for other reasons become very agitated when politicians start talking about inflation or assets tests, or use some of the high-falutin words that are generated through politics. These people become very concerned. They do not understand. So for that very reason I have not said very much. I know that in the community there is widespread concern about the introduction of the assets test. There is widespread concern, too, about the introduction of a means test for pensioners over the age of 70.

When the Government was in opposition its members were very ready to attack the Fraser Government at every opportunity. That seems to be the name of the game; if one attacks, if one tries to bring people apart at the seams one might score a political point. Unfortunately, in between there were many thousands of people who suffered during those bitter debates and dates. For example, when the previous Government decided to remove the half-yearly indexation of pensions I think all honourable members will recall what occurred in this House and what occurred prior to that move. There was a continual onslaught by the then Opposition on the Fraser Government which lost us thousands of friends and which created many problems within the community, particularly the aged community. I followed the issue very closely because I was involved.

I do not want to get up in this House and character assassinate anybody, but I can quite clearly recall the words of Senator Grimes, who was Opposition spokesman on social security at the time. On 9 May 1979 Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, who at the time was the Minister for Social Security, made a speech in the Senate during an urgency debate. I have always had the greatest regard for Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle. She is a very competent lady, and she was able to express all the facts very concisely-always the facts; nothing either side, just the facts. I should like to recall what was said at that time, which I think is extremely important. Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle said:

I think it is important to say that because of the claims that are made about broken promises with regard to the maintenance of the purchasing power of the pension. Those figures show-as I have shown in other ways from time to time-that that purchasing power has been maintained as a deliberate policy of Government and as a commitment by the Government to find the funds to pay for those increases as they have occurred through our legislation. It was said also by Senator Grimes that there is speculation which is damaging, and speculation which does give concern to the poor and disadvantaged and the people who are dependent on this Government's program.

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle was talking about the Fraser Government. She continued:

I have said repeatedly-and I say it again-that I regret this speculation. As the Minister concerned primarily with the matters about which the speculation originates, I am very concerned as to how one is to stop this sort of speculation in a pre-Budget context-

Senator Grimes-Well, you could stop Lynch and Co. . . . for a start.

During the by-election, Sir Phillip Lynch made a certain statement about the indexation and means testing of pensions. There was an uproar. As a result of that, we have an honourable member in this House who could owe his seat to a certain amount of that speculation and that condemnation of the then Government. That is the honourable member for Lowe (Mr Maher). I do not want to say anything about the honourable member for Lowe; but that is what occurred. I continue the quotation:

Senator GUILFOYLE—I think that those who express personal views should not be regarded as expressing Government policy. Government policy is expressed in the Government's own legislation. The Government's record as far as income security is concerned has been one that I think bears scrutiny. It has the support of the Australian people who receive it. Further, I believe it has recognition from those who have to make the payments that make this sort of income security system possible.

Senator Grimes speculated about the concern that those who are over 70 may have with regard to future increases in their pension. Knowing they have a basic free of income test pension at over 70 of the standard rate-that was the rate before the increase of last year-they are probably not as concerned about that aspect. They know that they have that regardless of their income. Pensioners must be concerned to know that it is the policy of the Australian Labor Party to introduce a means test on the over 70 pensions-

Senator Grimes-Nonsense! Nonsense!

Senator GUILFOYLE—Senator Grimes, you said in the Senate that you were responsible for that change in the policy of your Party-

Senator Grimes-No, I did not say that. I think that is an outrageous statement and you know it.

The point I make is that as soon as anything was mentioned about means testing or about assets testing of the aged, there was continual uproar on the part of the then Opposition, and that concerned many pensioners. I thought to myself that I would not get involved in that at the time, because many pensioners contacted the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom), the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr) and the honourable member for Bass (Mr Newman). Many other politicians have been contacted by elderly pensioners who have been concerned and upset by the mention of assets testing and mention of the introduction of means tests. They do not understand it, so they get very concerned. I am afraid that I must accuse the Government of attacking those who are less able to defend themselves.

Mr Burr —What about Senator Grimes?

Mr GOODLUCK —I do not want to get into criticising Senator Grimes. To be perfectly truthful, I am sick of the character assassination of certain politicians.

Mr Hodgman —Like the Prime Minister has done to you.

Mr GOODLUCK —The honourable member mentions the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and we get on to the Budget again, and to what has been allocated for Tasmania-$30m-odd . We have the Hawke Government and the attack on my friend and colleague the honourable member for Denison today by a normally kind person. That just shows what feeling the Government has towards the members from Tasmania. It has been a black day for Tasmania, with a continual attack by the Government. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Lionel Bowen) has been rushing around with a piece of paper to the honourable member for Denison-who is, incidentally, a fit man-and gesticulating in such a way that one could construe it as meaning, 'Let's fight it out today'. All week he has been calling certain of my colleagues hillbillies .

Mr Newman —All of us.

Mr GOODLUCK —All of us. I beg the honourable member's pardon. The Prime Minister hates Tasmania continually. It must stop, because it is not doing the Australian Labor Party any good in Tasmania. Its rating is down to zero. The Prime Minister lives in a sort of cocoon. I have called him Dorian Gray and many other names. I think the media has really got to the man. He is starting to look and sound like 'I am the greatest. I am right at every opportunity. You dare say a word against me and you will pay the price'. The audacity of him saying continually, in this House, on ABC radio, and in other places, that I, Bruce John Goodluck, am ashamed to be a Tasmanian, has worn out his welcome in Tasmania. I have said to him on many occasions 'Let's go to Tasmania and debate it', but he would not go to Tasmania and debate it.

Mr Hodgman —You would kill him.

Mr GOODLUCK —Of course. So for that very reason I suggest to the Prime Minister that he should stop; he should start to understand that he is not, as he thinks he is, as respected and as loved as it would appear when those three poor women kissed him in Tasmania on that day. He seems to think that they represent all the women of Tasmania. I assure him that that is not so, because in Tasmania the Australian Labor Party is not as well liked as it thinks it is. I am afraid that it will have to do better in the Budget than it has done to win the support of the people of Tasmania. I shall now move on a little and talk about the petroleum industry.

Mr Uren —Don't you read the Bulletin?

Mr GOODLUCK —I am a grass roots politician. I like getting out in the open and asking people about things. Everywhere I go I ask them.

Mr Uren —Don't you read the Bulletin?

Mr GOODLUCK —The Bulletin? I do not know who he is-Maximilian Walsh, or someone or other. Such people also live in a little cocoon. This bloke has conned them also. I do not care about their statistics. No one ever rings me and asks for my opinion about him. The point is that he lives in a cocoon.

Government members interjecting-

Mr GOODLUCK —He has got all you poor fellows taken in. But he has not taken me in, or the honourable member for Denison, the honourable member for Bass, the honourable member for Wilmot, the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Shipton), the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall) or the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Connolly). He has not taken in any of those honourable members. Furthermore, one man that he has not taken in is the honourable member for Braddon, the man who has been at the centre of the controversy about South West Tasmania, the man who got the highest vote of any Tasmanian politician for many years, and in a very safe Labor seat, because in his persistent way he has been able to put forward the aspirations of the ordinary, average working people of the west coast. The matter concerned work, the ethic of being able to work, and the ethic of being able to make decisions. There are some good people on the Government benches. There is one at the table now-the Minister for Territories and Local Government (Mr Uren)-a good hard working fellow who believes in fair play. But there are many others who are educated to such a degree that they have reached the stage at which they believe everything that they read in a book. But life is not like that, I am afraid. The people of Tasmania have woken up to that , thank God.

The question of education problems has been raised. The trouble is, again, that we have some very gutless people in Australia who, because of political points of view, are afraid to say openly what they think. Many things are occurring in Australia today. I mention, for example, $5,000 being spent on the alternative lifestyle. We all know that that is not the solution to unemployment or the real causes of our present problems. If that money were spent by the Government on trying to overcome the problems of the family or on trying to find ways of helping the aged, we could support it and understand it. School teachers have been mentioned. There are many very good school teachers; but there are a lot of very ragged school teachers and many very unusual school teachers who seem to find more delight in being political, being awkward--

Mr Chynoweth —You hate school teachers.

Mr GOODLUCK —No, I have the greatest regard for them in the main; but there are a few who seem to be conned into this system that we must have a division between private schools and state schools. There should be no division at all. I went right through a state system. I have sent my girls to a Catholic school. That is my choice. I have paid for it, and I do not care what anyone says about it. But I do not like it when I am dictated to by some teachers involved in the education system, not only in Tasmania but also in Australia.

Mr Connolly —They second the Labor vote.

Mr GOODLUCK —The majority of them are with the Labor Party, regrettably. I issue a warning. It is about time that we started to come out and say certain things in this regard. It is the same with the Sex Discrimination Bill.

Mr Saunderson —You hate women; we know that. And school teachers.

Mr GOODLUCK —No, that is wrong. I have been wanting an opportunity to put this matter in its correct perspective for a long time. Unfortunately, everyone is not fair. Of course, the Labor Party seems to have a philosophy that everyone will be the same, that everyone will work as hard as others, that everyone will be as fair, that everyone will do this, that all women are the same and all men are the same, and so we should treat them like that. Unfortunately, they are not all like that. Sometimes I am accused of condemning a network of child care centres.

Mr Burr —That is unfair.

Mr GOODLUCK —I agree with the honourable member. The point I am trying to make is this: If a woman because of circumstances has to go to work and finds it necessary to place her children in a child minding centre, I do not mind subscribing to that through my taxation, nor do any other members I know of, but I hesitate when some women, for the pure and simple reason that they want to get into the work force and do certain things, put their children into a child minding centre when they really do not have to. In those circumstances, if they want to put their children into a child minding centre they should pay for it. Therefore, I do not subscribe to this philosophy, which is evident within the Labor Party, of having a network of child minding centres. We have to be very careful. As an opposition we should oppose such a proposal at every opportunity.

There has been a bit of talk about the Sex Discrimination Bill. Everybody is entitled to his point of view, but we, as an opposition, have to say: 'We stand here'. We cannot waiver and follow some of the radical feminists. Many very good people, men and women, support the Sex Discrimination Bill, but among them are many of the women whom I detest. They seem to condemn family life. They seem to be against everything that revolves around the family. They seem to want to have their point of view thrust upon everyone else and to suppress every other point of view. I am against them. We have to make certain that their influence does not override the influence of people who do not believe in that Bill. We have a perfect entitlement to vote on that Bill according to conscience. That is enough . We do not have to have fed to us everything the Labor Party would like to put down our necks.

I go back to the petroleum industry, which is very important in the Budget. I find the situation incomprehensible at the moment. I have the report of the Petroleum Products Pricing Authority, which fixes a maximum wholesale price for petrol in every capital city. I can give a classic example. I did not particularly want to talk about Tasmania today, but the price of super petrol--

Mr Steedman —Ha, ha!

Mr GOODLUCK —You laugh. You talk about--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member will speak through the Chair.

Mr GOODLUCK —I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker. Honourable members opposite, when they talk about the average weekly wage, do not understand that in Tasmania at the moment the price of super petrol is 52c a litre, yet in Albury, which is halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, it costs 43c a litre. There is a difference of 10c a litre. It is not right. The price of liquefied petroleum gas in Tasmania at the moment is 33c a litre, while in Victoria it is 23c a litre. We as a government-and honourable members supported us-said: 'Let us look for alternatives. Let us change to using LPG for cooking, powering motor vehicles, in restaurants, in homes, et cetera'. You have to be consistent. You say you support the poor.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I asked the honourable member to speak through the Chair.

Mr GOODLUCK —I swing around a bit. I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker. I went to the left only temporarily. I will come back to the right again. If honourable members opposite are consistent with what they say about caring for the needy, the poor and the other people of Australia, I ask them: Please, for God's sake, do not direct all your attention to some of the trendies, do not direct your attention to only certain aspects in the community; look at what is looking you in the eye-the price of petrol and other commodities which affect the average working person in Australia today and particularly in Tasmania. We, as Tasmanians, are accused of being too parochial, of sticking up too much for Tasmania. But if we do not do that in this House I am afraid that we will be dominated by some of the trendies on the other side who do not understand what the average worker has to put up with.

I have a document to which I do not have time to refer in detail. It gives a comparison between an ordinary, average working man and his family-one person working and the wife staying at home looking after the children through necessity-and two people living the alternate lifestyle. The people living the alternate lifestyle are about $100 a week better off.

Mr Hodgman —Lesbians.

Mr GOODLUCK —Yes, the two women who are looking after the family referred to may be lesbians. I do not know what they are.

Honourable members interjecting-

Mr GOODLUCK —I am just talking about the alternate lifestyle. This is the point we have to be careful of. If we are going to support the family we have to make certain that these alternate life- stylers do not get the run.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Before I call the next honourable member who is to speak I simply want to make this point: When I ask the honourable gentleman to speak through the Chair or to address his remarks through the Chair, I do not just mean necessarily that it is desirable that he should look at the Chair. The important thing to ensure is that he is not making speeches to a particular honourable member and gaining a response from a particular honourable member. He is to address the House and to do so through the Chair.